This morning on my personal Facebook, I received a comment under one of my posts that said,
“Unbiased, my ass.”
The comment was made by a local business owner who I know solely through articles I wrote for The Southern Scoop. I often get messages to my personal Facebook page with news tips, or for interviews, which often results in those individuals being added to my personal page, which is private to my friend’s list. So the comment, which was posted on an opinion I posted pertaining to politics, was completely independent of my reporting, my job, or the Southern Scoop.
But because the comment implied a bias in my profession – I would like to address it. This is FAR from the first time someone has accused me of being biased and I can promise it won’t be the last. I have no issue with that. I have been called too liberal and too conservative enough times to think there is a healthy balance.
My issue with the “unbiased my ass” comment is because I believe people forget that journalists are human—and somewhere along the line there has been this false sense understanding that as a journalist I am supposed to be a robot. That despite having more information, and seeing more sides and angles than the average person, that I – as an individual – is supposed to remain silent and neutral. And maybe that is how you want your journalists to be – but if that is the case, I must apologize because that is not what you will get from me.
As a journalist – across any of the publications I have worked for over the last 11 going on 12 years – I have always tried to be bound by the ethics of journalism and to remain unbiased and impartial in my reporting. Have I fallen short at times? Yes. However, for the most part in my decade long career – I am proud of the work I have done. News articles I write generally appeal to one group or the other – one side of the issue or the other – however, they are presented without commentary, without editorial, and with factual accounts of what took place. My reporting is not biased – although someone’s interpretation or understanding of the subject may be.
And while I believe that as a journalist being impartial is prudent – I am also a firm believer that as an individual I am not bound to that same impartiality. I absolutely have to be careful. I understand that for a lot of people I am what I report – but that does not that mean as an individual away from my job and away from my reporting that I should be expected to not have opinions. That I should be expected to remain silent or under some imaginary gag order.
I promise to always remain open, honest, professional, and impartial to the best of my ability in everything that I report and everything that I write as a journalist. However, outside of my professional capacity, I promise to be human and to have opinions, ideas, likes, dislikes, views, values, and anything else that you may or may not agree with because that is just the world that we live in.